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Leicester diabetes expert’s research supports ‘game changing’ obesity breakthrough

Ground breaking research in diabetes led by a team of Leicester researchers has played an integral role in laying the foundations for new research, which reveals that a new anti-obesity medication is almost twice as effective in helping people lose weight than other weight loss drugs currently available.

A research paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reported on the results of a trial using semaglutide, a drug which was initially used in diabetes trials led by Professor Melanie Davies in 2017. This early trial discovered that semaglutide was able to lower blood sugar and promote weight loss in participants in just three months.

In the new study, participants saw reductions in risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, such as waist circumference, blood fats, blood sugar and blood pressure.

Melanie Davies, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and Co-Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “These results, which demonstrate semaglutide’s ability to have a significant impact on lowering blood glucose and supporting weight loss when taken orally, are hugely promising.”

Being overweight or obese is a significant contributor to type 2 diabetes.

For their phase II trial of the pill version of semaglutide, Professor Davies and her team enrolled 632 patients with type 2 diabetes whose current treatment was not achieving sufficient glycemic control, for instance through diet and exercise, or through use of metformin.

The results showed that 71 per cent of patients on the pill form of semaglutide achieved a ‘clinically relevant’ weight loss of 5 per cent or more.

Many patients can manage their type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, and using medications to help control blood sugar, or achieve glycemic control, but for a significant minority of patients who have not seen much improvement in spite of these methods, semaglutide is a promising development.

The LDC has a world-renowned, multi-disciplinary research team, which is leading the way and providing the evidence behind the Leicester Diabetes Centre’s education programmes and widening the knowledge base for health and disease management. This study was also supported by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, of which Professor Davies is the Director.